A HOUSING estate that was left behind as high speed broadband was introduced across the rest of a town is set to get connections that are 1,000 times faster than they currently have.

Following an eight-year campaign by councillors in the Park East ward of Darlington, Digital Durham has announced The Pastures housing estate will qualify for funding to improve broadband connectivity for its residents.

Digital Durham, which works to improve broadband speeds in communities where suppliers believe it will take a long time to get a financial return on their investment, said work to install ultra-fast broadband Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) on The Pastures estate should be completed within the next nine months.

Residents of the housing estate said it did not have fibre broadband installed when it was built a little over a decade ago due to an oversight in planning, and as the need for higher speeds has increased those living there have struggled with maximum speeds of 0.9 Megabits per second.

They said they can only use their current connections for light or infrequent internet access, and it was not fast enough for clear video streaming or online gaming.

Digital Durham said the FTTP connection will be able to provide “gigabit capable speeds” - one gigabit is equal to gigabit is equal to 1,000 Megabits per second.

Councillor Cyndi Hughes said the FTTP connection would be free for residents and would make a big difference to people’s lives.

She said: “The recent lockdown really brought home the importance of a decent broadband connection that would allow children and young people to engage in remote learning and their parents to work from home.

“Unfortunately, that has not been within the grasp of the people living in The Pastures development within our ward.”

She said her fellow Park East councillors Libby McCollom and Michael Nicholson would continue to press for investment in technology in Park East, where residents say despite the central location in the town and proximity to masts, phone coverage is patchy.

Changes at The Pastures are set to come as part of the Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme business and residents in some of the hardest-to-reach places in the UK are eligible for additional funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.